A Moscow Christmas Tale

Московская рождественская история: волшебный банкомат спасает от жадного гаишника.
On Eve of 24th I packed my photo gears and drove to downtown to check what’s going on in the city and take photos. The illumination was gorgeous, Christmas trees were shining all over the place, red Santas luring passerby to Department stores. It was snowing and all this paraphernalia looked much more natural then say in Tokyo, Thailand or Sydney, my past Christmas locations.
Bolshoj Theater
I parked by the Bolshoj Theater and put camera on tripoid when I realised …

… that the angle from another side of the huge Theatralnaja Square would be much nicer. Both the Theater and huge Tree would fit into one frame. What to do? I could leave car and run, but it would take while before I find parking lot, pay, get all my gear together and run around the square through a underground pass. Well, it’s just about 10 lanes of traffic all going one way. No more no less. I checked for police, waited for lull in traffic and in one giant leap crossed the square. Only at the last moment I noticed tiny opened police booth with a traffic cop curiously observing my maneuvers. Car stopped only few meteres away from the guy. He was serious, while I couldn’t hold smile. When he approached I frenetically apologized, pointing to my professional looking gears and excusing myself with need to take photo. What we going to do he inquired? It wouldn’t be very nice to loose license just before New Year, isn’t it? Well yes, I panted. But what was the violation exactly? It seems I just crossed one solid line. Big deal. (This is true BTW. There is no rule that one can’t drive athwart a street.) Could we possibly settle in more humanistic way? Well, how? For example, would 200 rubles be sufficient to close the case on spot? Reluctantly but he agreed. Was he expecting better offer? Anyway I was relieved. Only after agreement was concluded I realized that I got just one 500 rubles bill left in my wallet. I asked guy to wait while I go into underground shopping arcade to split 500. Usually one can easily do this. But seems it wasn’t my day. All twenty something vendors refused to deal with my 500 rubles. As I was frantically running from shop to shop I noticed an ATM buried in the wall. Eureka! I pulled out my card, inserted into machine and holding my breath requested exactly 200 rubles (about 7 dollars with current rate). The beast complied! I pulled out my money, stick them in between driving license and car passport and proceeded to the policemen. Documents were accepted, inspected and returned promptly. After the transaction has been completed I continued with photography, although the best light was already gone. Soon I realized that to get one yet interesting shot I should be on exactly on the opposite side of the square. I retreated to the car, turned engine on, checked for cars and plunged in traffic.

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